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Upgrading Laptop Hard Disk
Old 09-30-2008, 05:00 PM   #1
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Upgrading Laptop Hard Disk

I've been receiving Windows "Almost out of disk space" messages for about 6 months now on my 100GB laptop. Each time I dutifully clean up as many files as I can from the recycle bin, temp, temp internet, and even remove software that I only occasionally use, to regain a GB or so of free space. In the past week, despite these efforts, I've pretty much run out of space now. So I am upgrading to a larger hard disk. I've ordered the disk drive and an external USB2.0 caddy for the drive from Newegg, and am awaiting their arrival tomorrow.

So my question is, does anyone have any experience with WinXP migration software? I found something called Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 that purports to be able to make an exact, bootable clone of one's existing hard disk on the new, larger drive, which then can be plugged in and will operate as if nothing had changed. There is no need to format, reinstall Windows, reinstall applications, transfer e-mail, data, or settings...it is all done as a single clone job. This sounds too good to be true. Is it? Should I be taking a different approach? :confused:

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 09-30-2008, 05:59 PM   #2
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Upgraded my laptop hard drive earlier this year using Acronis True Image 11 and a USB 2.0 external drive. Have not used Migrate Easy. If you use True Image, you will have a backup/restore program (a darned good one) left over when this little project is done.

Basically:
1. Ensured I could boot the laptop running Acronis True Image 11 Standalone from CD Rom. Acronis has its own little operating system that allows you to run thier product. Also ensured that I could access the backup media (external drive and network backup) while running Standalone.
2. Reboot Windows. Backup from old hard drive to external drive. You may even be able to do this step while running Acronis True Image Standalone.
3. Just in case... make additional backup on some other media if available. For this I made another copy on my desktop across the network (router w/4 port switch).
4. Deinstall old hard drive.
5. Install new hard drive.
6. Boot Acronis True Image 11 Standalone from a CD Rom on the laptop.
7. Restore to new hard drive. I believe Acronis will restore to a larger partition (which you would be doing).
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Old 09-30-2008, 06:42 PM   #3
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I use UBCD4Windows. It comes with driveimagexml. You put ubcd4windows on a cd, then boot to cd. This boots a copy of windows from the cd. You get a windows desktop on which you will see driveimage xml. You can then run driveimage and make a backup of your existing drive to a usb hard drive. Then install the new drive, boot ubcd4windows and restore the image to the new drive.

It may be a little more complicated than other software, however, the price is right. FREE!
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Upgrade Thoughts
Old 10-01-2008, 08:40 AM   #4
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Upgrade Thoughts

100 gb is a lot of space. I have over 10,000 pictures on my laptop (along with Microsoft Office, etc.) and I only have 25 gb consumed.

Perhaps you'd like to run a program like Treesize to
see what files are consuming all the space?(Treesize xp software by JAM Software and others)

If you decide to upgrade and are not comfortable with the process, I would get a computer geek (friend or company) to do it. It is difficult to remove the hard drive on some laptops and it is not unheard of for data to be lost during the process.

Mike Honeycutt
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:49 AM   #5
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I've used Acronis to backup and restore whole hard drives before. You could probably back up your current drive to USB external, then reimage a new, larger drive without any issues.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:28 AM   #6
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Surely you don't use all 100GB of those files on a daily basis - why not just use the external drive to store the less frequently used ones and free up some space on your main drive? I am curious how you have filled up 100GB, that is a lot of space (unless you have downloaded a ton of movies).
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Old 10-01-2008, 11:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahoneycutt
100 gb is a lot of space.
Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
Surely you don't use all 100GB of those files on a daily basis - why not just use the external drive to store the less frequently used ones and free up some space on your main drive?
You're both right. I'm surprised that I've filled it up too. Half of the drive is partitioned as C: which is all programs, settings, temp, etc. This is the drive that I have the most trouble with. The other half is D: which is data (mostly databases and other types of archived data that I need for w*rk when I travel overseas). It has a couple of free GB remaining. Maybe I should just move the big stuff on D: to the external drive, repartition to a larger C:, and carry the external drive with me. I'll have to think about that...I hate to add one more thing to my load when I travel. I've already got two computers (one client requires that I use their laptop) and two cell phones, plus all the cables, headsets, cards, and dongles you can imagine.

Now that I'm writing this, I can clearly see that the problem is the w*rk stuff. If I could just retire all the way, my laptop problems would be solved!


Quote:
Originally Posted by mahoneycutt
If you decide to upgrade and are not comfortable with the process, I would get a computer geek (friend or company) to do it. It is difficult to remove the hard drive on some laptops and it is not unheard of for data to be lost during the process.
I've upgraded/replaced several laptop hard disk drives in the past few years, so I'm comfortable with the hardware part. For those upgrades I always just reinstalled Windows and all the software by hand, and then restored the data from the network backup. This usually takes a few days to get exactly right, though, and I was hoping to avoid using up those days this time.
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:10 PM   #8
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I've never gotten a disk to larger disk image to work without undesirable implications, but I havent tried to do it in years, mostly because when I tried it before I ended up wasting hours of time and had to reinstall windows, apps and data anyhow.

Good to hear some folks are having favorable experiences doing it with more recently available tools.
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Old 10-01-2008, 03:39 PM   #9
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I've found WinDirStat to be very useful in situations like this. It scans your HD and creates a map that you can use to find large files and directories astray (dvd rips, movie downloads, cd copies, ect).

I also delete old $ntUninstall directories from c:\windows. These allow you to uninstall windows updates. They tend to add up, delete them if you are confident you will not need them.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Personally, I would recommend backing all your data files up on an external drive and then format/reinstall windows and your applications from scratch. This is more time consuming than "migrating" your current installation to a new drive, but I find that Windows collects a lot of cruft over time, and even if you uninstall applications, a lot of little pieces are left, bloating the registry and slowing down the system.

Alternately, if you have a Dell Latitude like me (or one of the other corporate laptop lines from IBM, etc.) you can replace the CD/DVD drive with a "media bay" caddy that holds a second hard drive. This would give you a whole new drive for your data files and wouldn't require you to carry any additional parts when you travel.
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Old 10-02-2008, 12:10 PM   #11
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The new hard disk and enclosure arrived late yesterday, so after soccer, dinner, helping with homework, washing the dishes, and making lunches, I finally got around to opening it up around 11pm. In about 5 minutes I had the new drive installed in the enclosure and was ready to do whatever I was going to do. Since a few of you had reported success migrating hard disks, I decided to give it a try. If that wasn't completely successful and hassle-free, I would immediately go to plan B, which was move infrequently used data to the new portable HDD and keep the 100GB drive in the laptop.

I shut down the laptop, rebooted to the Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 Boot CD (after switching the boot sequence), and with a few clicks, told the software to clone my old HDD to the new one in the USB enclosure. The software seemed to know what it was doing...it told me it would clone the boot sector, the c: drive, and the d: drive, and would get back to me when it was done. I waited 45 minutes or so, and it was still buzzing away, so I went to bed. At 5am I woke up and could still see the light from the monitor in the office, so I went in to see the lovely announcement "Migration completed successfully!" in the center of the screen. I clicked OK, shut the computer down, and went back to bed.

After seeing the wife and kids off in the morning, I came into the office, removed the new HDD from the enclosure, swapped it with the old one in the laptop, and pressed the ON button. Starts to boot, and....nothing....no OS found. SH!T. So I reopened the HDD bay on the laptop and noticed that the drive doesn't seem to be seated all the way in. I gave it a little wiggle and shove, turned it back over, and pushed the ON button again. POOF, this time it whirrs into action and boots to XP like it is supposed to. The only indication that anything was different was the little yellow NEW HARDWARE FOUND bubble in the lower right system tray, announcing a new larger hard disk. I tried starting up a number of programs, and all seemed well. After a few minutes Windows Automatic Updates announced that it wanted to install XP SP3. I figured why not, so I clicked OK. Whirr, buzz, a few clicks, a reboot, and here I am working away on a laptop with 60GB of free space and updated XP just like I had wished for. The cost: $65 for the new HDD, $12 for the USB enclosure (had to buy a new one for the SATA drive), and $40 for the migration software. And now I have a 100GB external drive for backup or whatever else I want to use it for. It probably wasn't the cheapest or most elegant solution to my storage problem, but it was easy and relatively painless.
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Old 10-02-2008, 12:21 PM   #12
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Cool, congrats! I just love fooling with all my PCs and really miss the hands on tech stuff, now that I'm a mid level management weenie.

I do rebuild all of my PCs every 6 months or so. Too much junk gets installed/uninstalled and really causes problems.

I have yet to find a good "cleanup" program that really works well. I tried Norton SystemWorks a while ago, but wasn't impressed.
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